Where to stay in Jamaica
Accommodation catering to all tastes and on wildly varying scales can be found all around the island’s coast, as well as more and more establishments inland in areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the Blue Mountains. Montego Bay and Ochos Rios are the main ‘volume tourism’ and cruise ship destinations, and they have many of the principal hotels, sights and shopping areas. At the western tip of the island, lining a spectacular seven-mile stretch of beach and some equally pretty cliffs, Negril is popular but with a very different feel, smaller-scale excusive hotels and a more laid back air. Port Antonia is also a calmer and quieter corner of the island boasting some of the most attractive countryside. Coastal areas such as Treasure Bay, Discovery Bay and Runway Bay have gained such a reputation over the years that they have become destinations in their own right, and of course a range of hotel accommodation can be found in the capital Kingston, the lively heart of Jamaica.
Boutique Hotels: Jamaica realised some years ago that there were many potential holiday-makers keen to visit its shores and looking for hotel accommodation, but put off by the stranglehold of the massive chain resorts. Since then a profusion of small and intimate, luxury boutique hotels have flourished around the island, many being converted from revamped B&B establishments.
All-inclusive Resort: Jamaica boasts more all-inclusive resorts than any other island in the Caribbean. In fact, there are over thirty dotted around the island’s most popular coastal locations, with something to suit every budget, and the advantage of having your holiday completely taken care of before you arrive, from meals and drinks to airport transfers. All-inclusive resorts are usually large affairs, well equipped with more than one pool and several options for restaurants and bars. By and large they fall into two categories; ones designed to cater for family holidays and those reserved for couples and honeymooners.
Grading: Hotels are government-controlled in four categories: A, B, C and D.
Bed and breakfast
Bed and breakfast in a local island home can provide a fascinating insight into Jamaican family life. Learn patois from native speakers and dine on robust home-cooked Jamaican fare. Play dominoes, strum reggae classics and swap tales on the porch. Information is available from the Jamaica Tourist Board.
There's no need to 'rough it' when camping in Jamaica as the island has sites that range from rustic to deluxe. Some have extensive on-site facilities, including the hiring of tents and additional equipment. Choose from former coffee plantations, botanical gardens, mountains and forested national parks. Information is available from the Jamaica Tourist Board.
Eco Lodges: Jamaica has also embraced the concept of eco tourism in recent years and there are now an abundance of choices - fully-fledged resorts, self-sustaining ‘eco-villages’ of separate huts and cottages squirreled away in secluded inlets, and eco-hotels such as Mocking Bird Hill, a ‘green boutique’ retreat with a global reputation for excellence, squirreled away at the foot of the Blue Mountains.
Beach Cabins: Laid-back, charming, romantic, and above all a fraction of the price of most hotels, staying in a beach cabin is undoubtedly the way to enjoy an exotic holiday in all its glory – and without breaking the bank. You’ll get a local feel for the place and a stunning location on the edge of the sand and surf. Beach cabins (and sometimes cottages) are usually pretty rudimentary affairs, with thatch-roofs, a small veranda, and one or two basic rooms inside. Especially prevalent in the north, they can be found all over the island’s finest beaches.
Self-catering: Self-catering on Jamaica usually means renting a privately-owned villa, with all the accompanying conveniences, either via the owner directly or through one of the plethora of specialist villa rental companies found online. There are thousands of properties to choose from spanning the length and breadth of the islands, but it’s worth remembering that most of them are appointed at the luxury end of the market and are usually quite expensive.